Tuesday, August 16, 2011

In Which I Fall Short

Why do I keep writing about love?
I read Les Miserables and cried when a good man died and rejoiced that he did not die alone; I thought, there is something more here I must get at.
Then the next day I sat down and wrote about love.
I don't want to write about love; I want to write about the condition of the human heart.  I want to write about Mexicans and the way Americans say the word "Mexican" like they used to say "nigger." I want to write about children and they way they still smile at butterflies in a net even when they didn't get enough to eat that morning and have bruises on their wrists where someone grabbed them. I want to write about my classmates and they way they go out on Friday nights and inundate all the cells in their body with poison and rub their genitals against metal poles while a strobe light flashes and how on Saturdays they call it fun.
Then I come home and write about a boy in a brown workman's jacket and the way his fingers look on a guitar.
I don't want to write about love; I want to write about women and their secrets and the stupid vanities they commit in the name of what other people call love.  I want to write about failure and the men I knew and the way the American Dream has become a father's imperative, the way their good grades dictate their law school acceptance letters and the way they turn around and run back to the bars and old-fashioned manual labor in the face of what they are supposed to be earning. 
I don't want to write about long nighttimes talking about nothings with a person whose pheromones hit your nostrils in just the right way.
I don't want to write about love; I want to write about the way a man can look another man in the face and then put a gaping hole right through the middle of that face and calmly wipe the bits of brain off his forehead and walk away.  I want to write about heros and how to be a good man and how to grit one's teeth and grimly complete the task set before one, and expect no thanks. 
Then I come home and I write about the pain of separation from a man who doesn't return my phone calls.
I don't want to write about love; I want to write about why it is stupid to write about love, why love is an old wives' tale that gets lost anyway in the boring realities of running a household and not getting enough or the right kind of sex and spending too much money. I want to write about how fourteen-year-old girls'  grades drop drastically because they have begun to learn that it isn't pretty or sexy to get good grades. I want to write about how the packaging industry is the biggest industry in America and there are people who dedicate whole lives to making sure that packaging isn't dented on the train ride from a manufacturing plant and then we expect them to die happy.
Then I come home and fail, and write about love.
Some part of me insists that it's because love is the redeeming factor in a world full of pointless labor and murder, but I have seen nothing that isn't set in black and white in twenty-six roman characters to suggest that such a belief is true. I suspect that it is the fourteen-year old grade-dropping part of me that whispers such blasphemy in my ear while I am trying to write about something important. No one dies for love outside of novels, anyway; sometimes bouncers step in front of strippers when a crazed gunman enters a strip club, but more often your spouse will have a psychotic break and kill you, your children, and then himself--always the wrong order.  If you put love on a scale against an income and a working vehicle, I'll tell you which one any sensible person will choose, and I can show you the looks on the faces of your friends and mother if that fourteen-year old sucker for psychologically-backed advertising makes you choose wrong.
God, I would like to stop writing about love!